Sanitation facilities in local trains are poor. On one hand railways has fitted bio-toilets in most of the express and superfast trains. While on the other hand, there is not even a simple toilet in the local trains. Not only toilets, even basins and clean water won’t be found in the local trains to wash hands or face. Seating coaches of local trains has lot of empty space due to the absence of toilets and basins. In that space, people sit, sleep and do lot of other activities. Drunkards enjoy that space the most. They wander, fight, blame the air, dance, sleep, sit and laugh for no reason in that space. Where railways should provide the sanitation facilities, drunkards express themselves freely in that space.
As per the rule, railways has to provide sanitation facilities to the passengers if the train is covering the distance of more than hundred kilometres. Anand memu used to cover the distance of over four hundred kilometres. It’s starting point was Ahmedabad and it’s last stop was Surat. Thus by the rule, western railways has to provide sanitation facilities in memu but railways personnel is very smart. They used to run the memu train from Ahmedabad to Surat by changing its names and numbers. It starts from Ahmedabad as Anand memu. At Anand, it becomes Vadodara memu. At Vadodara, it completes hundred kilometres. So the department change its number along with its name for the next hundred kilometers. And in this manner, they take it to Surat without providing sanitation facilities.
In September, I completed a year in my company as well as a year of commuting via train. And I realised the importance of sanitation facilities in local trains after completion of a year. In September, Mahesh Kaka got down from the memu as he wanted to pee. Memu was at platform no. 2 and there was one express train on platform no. 3. To use the toilet, he went in one of the coaches of that train. And before he could have finished his task, the train started leaving Ahmedabad station. Before going in that train, he was confident that the train will not start its journey in next couple of minutes. He was old enough to get down from the running train. Thus he pulled the chain to get down from the train. By the time he got down from the train, he missed the memu.
Dwarkesh Kaka called him and suggested him to come in the next memu. Then as the train crossed Nadiad, a man got up with the kid in his lap and was asking for toilet. When he came to know that there is no toilet in this train then he went to the link of between the coaches. There was some open space at the link where two coaches were connected. He instructed his kid to pee there. He did it there, came back and started touching the people of each row with those wet hands. Nikesh and Mayank Kumar were the lucky ones of our group who got that touch. Mayank Kumar became angry and started fighting with that kid’s father. Kid’s father apologised to Mayank Kumar, took the kid in his lap, washed his hands with drinking water and then left him in open after cleaning them.
In the evening, Ahmedabad memu was late by an hour. It left Anand station at 6:00 p.m. So rather than waiting for Saurashtra Express, I boarded that train to reach Ahmedabad early. As the train started approaching Ahmedabad station, I got up from my seat and went near the gate of the coach. I was enjoying the breeze at the gate. A man came from behind and pulled me in. After pulling me in, he took my position and started peeing standing at the gate while the train was moving. He didn’t care about the people standing at the next door or the people sitting on the window seat. Only thing he cared about was his nature’s call. No one noticed that he is peeing. Everyone thought that he is just standing near the door. “It was uncontrollable,” He uttered after finishing his task.
I smiled and went to the next door to get down from the train. All these instances occurred on the same day. These kind of instances might be happening all the time but I noticed them that day because Mahesh Kaka became the victim of unavailability of sanitation facilities. I tweeted to rail ministry after those instances but I didn’t receive any reply and nothing happened. I realised the importance of sanitation facilities through these instances. It didn’t end there. Realisation of benefits of sanitation facilities was yet to come.
Couple of weeks later, I was coming back to Ahmedabad in Navjeevan Superfast Express. In that, no TC appeared till Maninagar. Normally if TC doesn’t come to check ticket till Maninagar then one can reach Ahmedabad in Navjeevan Superfast Express without paying the fine. Because after Maninagar, there is no checking of ticket in the train. That day as the train left Maninagar station, I was feeling safe. As the train approached Ahmedabad station, I got up to use the toilet. I went into the toilet which was at the end of the coach and from the window of that toilet, I saw the signal. It meant that train has entered in the Ahemdabad station. The general coach was the last coach in that train.
“Ticket please!” I heard the voice while unlocking the door of the toilet. As I heard the voice I stopped. If I would have gone out at that time then I would have paid the fine. Instead of going out, I stayed in the toilet and checked for the platform from the window. Half of the train had entered in. After seeing that, I opened the door of toilet. As I got out of toilet, I saw lot of people in queue near the door. They were there to get down from the train. I joined them and got down from the train without getting caught. While getting down, I saw two TCs and they were busy in collecting fine from couple of guys.
So sanitation facilities are not just the necessity, it has its benefits as well.